You need to have good cards to win almost any game in the casino and while poker is in that category too, you can actually go pretty far if you know how to master your poker face and bluff well during a game.
Part of bluffing is not only trying to confuse your opponents and keep them guessing as to what you have in your hand, but also being able to read them and their movements, so you can get an edge.
If you’ve been playing poker for some time but haven’t mastered your poker face just yet, we’ve got a number of tips and tricks to lead you down the right path.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to play like a pro and how to engage in the game without allowing your opponents to read into you.
Protect Your Eyes
One of the first places where poker players look to when searching for a tell is in the eyes. They’ll look you directly in them to try and gauge what you are hiding. Do you have strong cards? Are you bluffing? Are you overplaying what you have?
The best way to circumvent this is to obstruct their view with either glasses of some kind, or a hat. Of course, with a hat, you’d simply pull it down low, so that your eye movements are hard to read. However, sunglasses are usually the easiest way to prevent any opponent “research” from taking place. You can use any old cheap pair or you spend aplenty with professional poker sunglasses.
Playing with glasses – especially tinted ones – or playing with a hat can take some getting used to. In the end, it will help conceal your eyes but make sure you have plenty of experience playing with these added accessories as they can take some time to get used to.
Notice Where You’re Looking
Another element to the eye-game is to notice where you’re looking. When you’re engaging with other players, try to stay consistent. In other words, if you’re someone who is comfortable looking them in the eyes, then stick with that.
If you’re someone who doesn’t make eye contact, stick with that too. Always look straight ahead rather than gazing off into the ceiling or around the room. Again, you want to just come across like a rock: you’re not giving anything out. Notice your blinking patterns too as those can share some intel as well.
Get A Grip On Your Mannerisms
We all have little twitches, neck shifts or hand gestures as we move through life, but we mostly don’t notice them ourselves. You’ll want to start to pay attention to them and cut them off as those can give a read on what you’re thinking.
For example, if you get nervous, maybe you blink faster. Or if you’re feel good about your hand, you release a little bit of a smile. Any of these types of behaviors can give a preview as to your sentiment about a given hand.
One of the best ways to learn is to watch yourself in a mirror. That is the first step in the observation process. The next level would be to set up a camera and watch yourself play. Typically, the camera is the better way to go because then you can simply focus on playing a game and then review the tape later.
However you do it, you want to come to an end result where you’re very stoic, unemotional and are not expressing anything that could give a hint as to what you have.
Tracking Your Body Language
While mannerisms are one thing, your general body language is another.
It’s well-known that a large chunk of our communication is done through our body language. For example, if someone walks into the room slumping their shoulders, you might get the impressive that they’re either sad or lack confidence.
If someone sits at a table and spreads themselves out like they own the place, you might get the impression that they are confident, outward and welcoming. These are just a couple of general examples but the same principles apply at the poker table (or other game table), too.
Sometimes when you get dealt a pair of pocket aces, you might perk up and sit straight – almost to say that things are getting serious. Or if you keep getting crappy hands and you are simply folding, you might slump down.
Of course, this is pretty natural to do but the key is to cut it out. The more you act like this, the more you show your cards – pun intended. You want to disguise what you’re doing at all times.
If anything, the pro level of this is to do the opposite or to try and throw your opponents off the scent. If you have a great hand, think about slouching, grimacing or being grumpy. Or if you have bad cards, try to get excited from time to time before folding. This way, you become harder to figure out.
Control Your Voice
The main way that opponents will get clues about your cards is from sight but don’t overlook sound. Players might try to chat you up as that can give a world of information as to what’s happening in your mind.
The first thing to keep in mind is to always speak with the same tone and speed. The easiest way to do it is to think about being boring when you speaking being consistently boring. That will lead to slower speech and lower tones.
If you don’t control this, you could sound one way when you’re excited and another way when you’re disappointed. You could speak faster when you’re nervous and slower when you’re cool and collected. These types of cues offer insights.
Another element of speaking up is that it’s simply best not to do it. Everyone likes to be chatty around a poker table, but there is little to gain and lots to lose. Instead, choose your words wisely as say very little.
Keep your answers quick and simple, and just leave the social chatter to someone else. The less you say, the better.
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